I’ve watched the Philando Castile cop cam, in full. I have a lot of words. A ton. To begin, this issue of the situation not being racist because we have a Latino cop killing a black citizen: Let’s take it up to a broader perspective – of an institution being prejudiced against communities and types of people. A cop doesn’t have to be white to be racist. A person, doesn’t have to be white to be bigoted, prejudiced, racist, etc. The institution that a cop is in, is the in-fluencer, and all decisions – good and bad – spill out from there. That institution has specific ways of looking at people. Does not matter if the individual person doesn’t fit the profile. Doesn’t matter if it’s a white, upper class suburban mom profile or a white, poverty level single male – that institution functions on categorizing people as one way of sizing up a situation. I get it. And, it’s failing. It’s failing all of us. It seems so obvious, to me, that our police force needs extensive training in RELATING with AND disarming people. There’s a LOT of killing going on when it seems that – disarming an individual would be most appropriate and potentially, less devastating. There’s always maiming and paralysis as outcomes. Also not good. In this case, if the man really was a threat, seated, in his car, with his kid and his girlfriend, after telling the officer that he had a firearm, in a calm voice, then yes, shooting him in the arm, or leg, once, may have been appropriate. We have a lot of terrified cops shooting to kill. This tells me several things:
1. It is reasonable and right that I continue to be terrified of cops. That my skin LITERALLY crawls when I pass by one in a car, or, on the street.
2. People in these positions of authority are piss poorly – that’s my first choice of words – inadequately, might be more palatable to others – trained to deal with stress, intensity and potentially dangerous situations, with anything other than lethal force.
3. This institution has far too much power to kill and too little accountability, and sense of responsibility, for the lives taken, or the lives put into harms way. As an institution, there seems to be too little sense of responsibility for the humanity it claims to serve and protect. As, individuals, I have no doubt, there are still officers who feel the weight of their work, as it relates to other human beings, inside and outside their personal comfort zones.
4. The military may not be a perfect example, but the little I do remember, is that there are consequences to poor judgement and bad behavior – for lesser offenses than taking a life.
5. I am curious to know if the NRA offered support for Mr. Castile’s legal permit to carry.
6. I read some of the piss poor comments that passed for human thinking, in the threads, and there was a common theme – that he should have announced that he has a permit to carry, instead of just saying he was carrying a firearm. To that, I return the argument that defends the officer who killed him, by saying, it was a stressful situation, and he didn’t get all his words out, beyond the important words, Sir, I have a firearm. Which, were delivered calmly and respectfully, in response to the officers request that he pull out his license and registration… Calmly and respectfully, as post-humously suggested, by many, brilliant commenters.
7. And, then there are the comments white skinned folks made about how Philando Castile should have just done what he was told to do – which, he did motherfuckers.
The cop was fucking terrified, that much was clear after he shot the man, and had no business handling a routine pullover, if he couldn’t negotiate someone declaring a weapon, without resorting to shooting, a few seconds later.
And, yeah, I’m not a cop. I don’t know the stress/fear they work with. I am however, a citizen who may be pulled over or stopped and I have absolutely every fucking right to expect that someone who can kill me, as part of their day to day function on a job, will have more skill at engaging the public and diffusing conflict, than I do as an ordinary, non-lethal weapon carrying citizen of this sometimes excrutiatingly, fear-filled and hateful country.
Cops are terrified of black and brown people and instead of up-leveling the institutions’ defensive skills training, de-escalation skills (it was the officer who escalated here) and community development and involvement (if you’re going to be given permission to take a life you should damn well be close enough to it to know what you’re taking) – they’re killing people and being excused, in sympathy, for doing a scary job and making a regrettable mistake. It’s not ok people. There is nothing about it that is ok.